ABSTRACT

Late Cretaceous–to–present-day mixed carbonate–clastic deposition along the Nicaraguan platform, western Caribbean Sea, has evolved from a tectonically controlled, rifted upper Eocene shallow–to–deep-marine carbonate–siliciclastic shelf to an upper Miocene–to–present-day tectonically stable shallow-marine carbonate platform and passive margin. By integrating subsurface data of 287 two-dimensional seismic lines and 27 wells, we interpret the Cenozoic stratigraphic sequence as 3 cycles of transgression and regression beginning with an upper Eocene rhodolitic–algal carbonate shelf that interfingered with marginal siliciclastic sediments derived from exposed areas of Central America bordering the margin to the west. During the middle Eocene, a carbonate platform was established with both rimmed reefs and isolated patch reefs. A late Eocene forced regression produced widespread erosion and subaerial exposure across much of the platform and was recorded by a regional unconformity. The Oligocene–upper Miocene sedimentary record includes a southeastward prograding delta of the proto-Coco river, which drained the emergent area of what is now northern Nicaragua. The late Miocene–to–present-day period marks a period of strong subsidence with the development of small pinnacle reefs. We describe favorable petroleum system elements of the Nicaraguan platform that include (1) Eocene fossiliferous limestone source rocks documented as thermally mature in vintage exploration wells and seen as active gas chimneys emanating from inferred carbonate reservoirs; (2) upper–to–middle Eocene reservoirs in patch and pinnacle reefs, middle Eocene calcareous slumps, and Oligocene fluvial-deltaic facies documented in wells; and (3) regional seal intervals that consist of both regional unconformities and Eocene–Oligocene intraformational shale.

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